With the Sanyo RL7300, Sprint PCS is attempting to cut into Nextel's territory by providing a rugged handset with walkie-talkie functionality. Though it largely resembles the , it also incorporates the rubber trim of the company's , making it ideal for those who work in the construction or transportation industries. It's hard to say how much business the carrier will usurp in this market, but this mobile, with its sturdy design and well-integrated hands-free functions, succeeds in providing an alternative to Nextel's offerings. Though the phone is a bit pricey at $279, you can get it for less with a service contract. With its black-and-slate-gray color scheme, the Sanyo RL7300 isn't pretty, but its design will appeal to anyone needing a handset that can withstand a few bumps and the occasional tumble. Although the phone isn't quite as shock-proof as or the , the rubberized trim around the unit provides an added layer of protection. At 3.71 by 1.97 by 1.12 inches and 4.24 ounces, it's also a little hefty, but Sanyo was clearly striving for substance over style with this handset.
The internal screen is large enough (2.1 inches diagonally) to make Web browsing and text messaging easy on the eyes. The 1-inch external LCD is too small to display caller ID without scrolling the text, but like the internal screen, it supports 65,000 colors. A nice touch is the ability to change the background color that both screens display during incoming calls--your options are red, yellow, black, pea green, and celadon green. We also like that the prominent speakerphone is situated on the front of the mobile above the screen, rather than on the handset's rear.
The keypad is large, and the buttons--which include two soft keys--are well spaced, although the four-way navigation pad in the middle of the unit is a bit small. Our biggest complaint, however, is that the keys are set flush against the unit, which makes it difficult to dial by touch.
On the plus side, there's a dedicated speakerphone button located directly above the dial pad, making it easy to switch between the speakerphone and standard modes. A dedicated button provides one-click access to the wireless Web. On the handset's left spine, you'll find the Ready Link button and a volume-control key. The right spine features the Side Call key, which lets you place or receive calls without opening the cover.